Whether 2017 was a good year or not for your church, 2018 can be even better.
No, I’m not going to feed you some meaningless, shallow meme-style promise of numerical growth or financial gain. I will, however, remind you that God does wonderfully bless those who seek and serve Him. How it looks is up to Him.
That said, here are seven ways to jump start your church’s ministry and spiritual growth in 2018.
Renew or strengthen your focus on prayer
The priority of prayer should be a given. However, prayer can be taken for granted, unintentionally relegated to ritual: we pray before meals, we pray at specific times in a worship service, we pray before meetings.
Sometimes, though, it’s good to rescue prayer from the monotony of routine and place it at the forefront of our spiritual life.
This raises the question: for what do we pray?
Pray for opportunities to evangelize and mentor others
We pray for healing, restoration, help in hard times, and for guidance in our decision making. How often, though, do we ask God for opportunities to share the gospel? How may times do we pray for God to give us someone to mentor?
As we make prayer a priority, we must begin praying for those things — and mean it, too!
Take time to listen to God
A few weeks ago a friend of mine gave me some sage advice. I told him I’d been praying and praying, yet still struggling. His response: stop talking.
That’s got to seem counter-intuitive, right? I mean, the Bible says to pray unceasingly (1 Thess 5:17) and to continually bring our petitions before God (Luke 18:1-8). So why would my friend tell me to stop talking?
Well, he wasn’t telling me to stop praying; he was telling me to stop talking. My friend advised me to pause and listen for God’s voice.
Often we get so focused on telling God what’s on our minds and hearts that we forget to listen for His answer. This is just as much a part of prayer as talking to God. Prayer is a dialogue, not a monologue.
Spend more time reading and meditating on Scripture
Many Christians love going through a one year Bible reading plan. They can be a great tool, but they can also be a detriment.
It’s great to read the entire Bible in one year. However, if we do that just to have read the entire thing, then we wasted our time.
When we read God’s word, however often or however much we read, let’s take time to let God speak to us through it. Allow the Holy Spirit to teach us, transform us, and bring us closer to God through His word.
So far we’ve addressed more internal changes such as prayer and personal time with God. Now we will look at more external changes.
Set outreach and discipleship goals
So, you want to be more evangelistic? You want to make more disciple-makers in your church. Great! It’s time to set goals.
Wait, I thought you weren’t about numbers?!
I’m not, if numbers is your purpose or mission. However, numbers are a great tool.
Setting goals accomplishes two things: it gives people something to strive for and it allows you to measure results. Therefore, I do strongly recommend setting goals. Just don’t let reaching those goals become your purpose. Goals are a means, never an ends.
Whatever type of goal you choose — total based (how many one achieved) or frequency based (the “1X method” and my personal favorite) — start setting goals. Make sure, though, that they are both challenging and achievable.
Teach others how to make disciples and evangelize
Before he became one with the Force in Return of the Jedi, Yoda commanded Luke to “pass one what you have learned.” Jesus also commanded his disciples to “make disciples . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20).
Local churches should implement intentional strategies to make disciples and to train people in personal evangelism. It’s not enough to simply have small groups or Sunday school. Worship services are insufficient. Jesus didn’t merely teach his disciples or preach to large gatherings. Jesus taught one-on-one. Jesus mentored others.
When it came to what he taught, Jesus certainly offered life lessons and had theological discussions. However, he also showed people how to share the gospel. Jesus showed his disciples how to lead others into a life-changing, ever growing relationship with Him. We must do the same.
Begin intentionally sharing Jesus with others
Praying and listening? Check.
Reading and meditating? Check.
Planning and teaching? Check.
Wait, what? You actually want me to tell someone about Jesus?
Most Christians, sadly, don’t evangelize as often as we should–myself included. My former boss once told me that the best way to have a good day is to help someone else have a good day. Basically, focus on serving God by serving others. What’s the greatest service you can offer? The gospel of Christ Jesus!
Earlier I mentioned praying for opportunities to evangelize. Now it’s time to take advantage of those opportunities God provides.
Some of you may not be sure how to share the gospel with others. Well, there are many types of evangelistic methods. To help you, though, I offer two simple guides:
Whatever approach you choose, make 2018 the year you begin seeking opportunities to share the gospel with others.
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